The state earmarked CZK 14 billion for reconstruction and modernisation of universities. Universities used less than half of it.
Press release for audit No 16/31 – 14 August 2017
The Supreme Audit Office focused on the development and renewal of the material and technical basis of public universities in 2011-2016. The development and renewal are funded from the relevant programme through which the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (“MoEYS”) distributes money for the (re)construction and modernization of universities. The auditors examined how the MoEYS, as a manager of the programme, allocated money, and how selected universities proceeded to restore the infrastructure. The SAO selected a sample of six investment actions by four universities with costs that exceeded CZK 1.8 billion during the audit.
Between 2011 and 2016, CZK 13.8 billion was initially allocated for the construction, reconstruction, and modernisation of the infrastructure of public universities. In 2016, when the programme was supposed to be terminated and all the money to be dispensed, only approx. CZK 5,5 billion, i.e. 40% of the money earmarked, were spent. Universities started to draw money late, six of them as late as in 2014. Frequent reasons for later drawings were, for example, a time-lag in the preparation of actions, delays in public procurement, or poorly prepared investment projects. The MoEYS reacted to the slow money absorption by moving the programme´s deadline for completion to 2019.
Although the money distribution within the programme has been extended for a nine-year period, the MoEYS has no knowledge whether and how the money provided for the renewal and development of the universities´ infrastructure helped to achieve the objectives - for example, whether the (re)constructions helped universities to gain a more suitable learning background, whether expected energy savings were reached, or whether the quality of IT development and deployment improved. The MoEYS has not evaluated this continuously, but it intends to evaluate the nine-year programme after its completion in 2019. However, it will be a formal matter, as criteria for the evaluation are missing. The MoEYS has set only technical criteria that indicate, for example, how large area is to be built up, reconstructed, or insulated.
The Ministry also decided to support activities that had not been prepared in time. At the time of decision, there were no real parameters of construction or reconstruction, some studies were not prepared, or project documents were missing. The most important activity (in terms of the money amount) was also added to the programme - the construction of the headquarters of Český institut informatiky, robotiky a kybernetiky (the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics, and Cybernetics), which received support of CZK 1 billion. The action did not meet the conditions for obtaining the European subsidy from which the construction was originally to be financed. Due to the inclusion of this action in the programme in the course of its process, this project did not have to comply with some rules needed to gain the support. The problem is that such a procedure runs counter to the principles of the programme funding and, together with the other shortcomings, contributes to its reduction rather as a formal instrument.
The programme funding shall, within a certain period of time, allow the state to allocate money to clearly defined objectives in accordance with fixed rules and criteria. The state should then be able to assess whether and how that money helped in the given area.
Supreme Audit Office